Along the River

Vanina Starkoff, trans. from the Portuguese by Jane Springer. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-977-5
Argentinian artist Starkoff’s book is set in the tropics: colorful boats crowd a river, sailing across the spreads. The water is golden, the color of sunlight, and the book’s low, wide proportions underscore the sense of a slow, steady journey by water. “Everyone travels along the river,” writes Starkoff, “by ship or boat or canoe.” Vivid acrylic paintings show people living and working on the boats. Most have dark skin, and they’re dressed in brilliant colors. One woman lives on a houseboat covered with cacti, a man pilots a floating kitchen, a barge carries musicians, and another man dozes next to a pile of watermelons. The hand-lettered names of the boats (My Heart; Thanks, Dad) will make readers grin. Starkoff’s message about piloting through life—“You will have to discover... your own way and your own rhythm... while never letting go of your dreams”—takes on rich resonance when paired with the vision of life on the river, as people and boats of all shapes and sizes are carried along on the same current. Starkoff celebrates elemental human values: community, music, simple talk, food, and contentment. Ages 4–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/11/2017
Genre: Children's
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